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Bracelet mandrel


#1

I have been using a round bracelet mandrel for years and have become
quite adept at making both round and oval bracelets on it. However,
I have always wanted to get an oval mandrel thinking that it might
make my work a bit easier. So here I am, $95 later, with a large,
highly polished, brand new oval mandrel that I seem to be having lots
of problems using. I don’t have the style that has a tang that slips
into the bench pin holder; rather I purchased one that would lie in
my mandrel holder in the same manner as my round mandrel. Whenever I
use the oval mandrel, it rotates in the holder and makes forming the
bracelets very difficult. I presume that I would, after much trial
and error, devise a method that would work well for me but I was
wondering if anyone on the list would have a few tips to share
concerning the proper use of an oval bracelet mandrel. Thanks very
much.

dennis


#2

Dennis, I don’t know what kind of hole you have for holding a
tang, but you might try a homemade mandrel holder from a 2" x 4"
piece of wood. Take a length about 1-1/2 ft. long, and cut a
blunt-ended “V” shape on one half. This is the part which will be
inserted into the hollow part of the mandrel. For an oval
mandrel, you want the smaller part of the curved metal faces on
the top side. This is the part which would form the curve on the
sides of the wrist, rather than one of the flatter faces.

Put the 2" x 4" in a vise, with the mandrel at the top end.
Place a block of wood on the end of the mandrel, and strike dead
on with a good-sized sledge to seat the mandrel to your wooden
tang. After the tang is seated, the other end of the tang is
usually screwed onto a bench to hold it firmly while you’re
working. The mandrel holder is usually screwed to the top of the
workbench at about a 45 degree angle.

Anneal your metal first. To form a bracelet using an oval
mandrel, start with the small end of the mandrel. Place the metal
blank on the curve which would form the outside wrist part. Using
your rawhide mallet, smack just the end to begin curving one end.
Then reverse the metal strip, and do the same to the other end.
You’re not trying to form it into a bracelet yet. You should
have a tall “C” shape of metal now.

Now that you have the “C” shape, you can begin forming the rest
of the bracelet. Start on the smaller end of the mandrel, smaller
than what the final shape will be. Use your mallet to form the
blank on the flatter part of the mandrel. You’ll have to be
careful that you don’t spread the side curves. Take off the blank
occasionally and reverse it by 180 degrees, by turning the blank
upside down. You should have two very curved sides and one gently
curved face.

What remains is to get the bracelet the final size and put some
spring in it. Do this by gently tapping with your mallet while
sliding it down the mandrel. Remember to reverse the blank
occasionally. Once you figure out what you’re doing, it should
take you all of 10 minutes to form a bracelet 1" wide.

Several things of note here. If you’re forming a very wide cuff
into a forearm guard, you don’t reverse the blank. You need that
taper of the mandrel to follow the taper of a forearm. Of course,
your metal blank also needs to have a little more width at one
end than the other. The other thing, if you take out too much of
the side curve while sliding down your cuff, just go back to the
smallest end of the mandrel, and form the ends again into a tall
"C".

You’ll find other uses for that oval mandrel as you go along. I
often use it to form a gentle curve on a neckpiece so it lays
flatter against the collar bone. However instead of using it like
you would to form a bracelet, I put the metal along the length of
the flatter face.

Hope this helps,
K.P. in WY


#3

I think your best and most practical bet would be to turn your new
mandrel in on one with a tang on it, which can thus be held firmly so
it does not rotate. Margaret


#4

Thanks K.P. for the very useful My question is how
exactly do you screw the tang to the bench at a 45’ angle? I cant
visualize this. Is the mandrel hovering above the bench or is it
pointing towards you? I appreciate the help.

AnastasiA


#5

dennis - The best suggestion which I have seen for dealing with this
exact problem is using a short section of fir/pine 2"x4" which has
been whittled down on one end to jam fit the hollow base of the
mandrel. Once this is driven securely into place, put the wooden
"tang" you just made in your bench vise, and you’re ready to use the
mandrel!

Jim Small, SMALL WONDERS